Monday, July 13, 2009

Why Do We Write? - Shepherd

What do you say when someone asks you, “Why do you write?” I am tempted to say, “I write because I can’t not write.” That would be cheeky and does not really answer a genuine query.

For me, writing is a way to express what I really want to say. I would far sooner send you e-mail than pick up the phone to talk to you, especially if I have something important I want to communicate. When I speak on the phone, I am not able to take the time to find the exact word to convey the meaning that I want, and risk being misunderstood. When I write, I can read over my first draft and then edit it many times, until I express as accurately as I can what I want to say, before I push the send button.

To me ideas are precious. Concepts are valuable ways of handling the material that makes up our lives. Through internal dialogue initially, our ideas are created, shaped and refined, until finally they can no longer be contained and must be committed to paper. There the refining continues as they are edited and re-edited and the final product is our well thought through views on a particular topic. When they have reached this stage, they are ready to enter the public forum for more discussion and refinement.

Case in point: the book that I am working on about spiritual accompaniment. This has been in process at least ten years. Initially the idea kept coming to my attention in articles and books and I began to note these. This collection began my research files. Then, came a time in my life, when opportunities arose to ask myself first and then others, some probing questions around the whole concept.

The writing of the book itself followed on the heels of these conversations, nurtured by the material gleaned from them. After several drafts, I gave the first chapters to friends as well as those who were conversant on the subject to review for me. Then I began talking with publishers and getting their feedback. Now the book is in the rewriting stage. I came to realize that the tone of the writing was inconsistent with the content.

As I interact with the material of my book, I again feel the adrenaline rise. I must find a way to effectively communicate these exciting ideas with others so they too can share the joy of my discovery. That is why I write.

2 comments:

Peter Black said...

Eleanor, thank you for this well thought-through piece, which I suggest, articulates well the reasoning and journey others of us also experience in writing.
You pique my interest with your use of the "cheeky" term. Does this reflect an English / British parentage? (I grew up with it in my UK 'first-life').
Peter.

violet said...

"As I interact with the material of my book, I again feel the adrenaline rise." - How true! Worked through some old material last week and had those exact feelings.Hope you get the writing just right so we'll all get to read it.

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